Words by Tess Becker
As the climate crisis is becoming more real, people are seeking creative solutions for emissions and power – with the goal of moving us away from gasoline and coal.
One of the most common ways for us to generate clean power is solar power, using panels set up in farms. Solar power hasn’t changed that much since first being introduced as an energy alternative but Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a new technology to make solar energy much easier to use.
The technology they’ve developed is ultralight fabric solar cells that can quickly turn nearly any surface into a power source, aiming to reduce the bulk and space requirements for normal solar power systems.
The durable, flexible solar cells are much thinner than human hair and are glued to a strong, lightweight fabric, making them easy to install on a fixed surface.
They’re so thin and pliable that they could theoretically be fixed to things like ship sails to provide power at sea or be brought to disaster areas to provide power to areas with downed grids.
“We strive to accelerate solar adoption, given the present urgent need to deploy new carbon-free sources of energy,” says Vladimir Bulović, the Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology, leader of the Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory (ONE Lab), director of MIT.nano.